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Keeping the light bright this season

December 24, 2019
John Hairston
John Hairston

One of my favorite themes of the holiday season is all of the lights. Our communities are literally aglow with the brightness that makes this season so special. From the flickers of fireplaces to dazzling displays that attract thousands, our hometowns just seem to emit a little extra brilliance at the moment. The most beautiful light generates from the people who call America home.


Gulfport Harbor Lights

Glow of the season. Across the communities we serve, spectacular holiday displays such as the Harbor Lights Festival in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Celebration in the Oaks in New Orleans (below) radiate the bright kindness and caring among people who call the Gulf South home.


People here have an inner light that shines year-round, even more so this season. It’s a light that radiates from goodness and caring which come second-nature to so many. All around the region, people lend help, a helping hand, an encouraging word. They see a need, and they give and do to share light with someone whose situation may not be as bright. They don’t do it because someone asks. They do it because it’s the right thing to do. That compassion is core to our regional character. It’s authentic, and it illuminates everything, especially now.

No doubt, as we bid farewell to 2019, we’ll all be busy. Sometimes, though, amid the hurry and rush, remarkable opportunities to share a little light happen when we least expect. As we celebrate with those who mean the most to us, let’s keep our eyes, ears, homes, and hearts open. Many families with loved ones deployed to defend our country miss their folks in uniform more than ever. Thank and include them. People who’ve lost someone, whether of late or long ago, can be quietly grieving. The ones who seem the strongest are often the ones hurting the most. Support and include them. Some of our seniors may be lonely or feel forgotten. Remember and include them. If each of us can make the holidays—and any day—better for just one person beyond our own circle, the true light of this season burns even more brightly.

Celebration in the Oaks


When I was a young lad, I remember a discussion at the Christmas table about giving. After 50 years, I can’t remember for sure who said it, but I still remember the dialogue:  the greatest gift is the one given where nothing is expected in return. There’s nothing wrong with giving a gift and getting recognition; but the really impactful gifts are the gifts and kindnesses that make someone’s life a bit brighter—given only from the goodness of the giver’s heart. I always remember that story from my childhood during this season and hope it may be helpful to you. 

Wherever you are and whatever you do to make the season bright, may you enjoy a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and all the blessings the brand new year can bring.